GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH
For the most part, second helpings are rarely as satisfying as the first, but GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH proves to be as much fun, if not more fun than the original. After the destruction that befell Kingston Falls in GREMLINS, Billy Peltzer and Gizmo came to a parting of the ways, with the little Mogwai returning to his elderly Chinese caretaker. Years pass, Billy has left Kingston Falls and moved to the big city; while Gizmo finds himself captured by a scientist after his caretaker passes away and the curiosity shop in which he lives is demolished.
As it turns out Gizmo it taken to a genetics lab in a super hi-tech office tower, which also houses the media conglomerate for which Billy works. As you might expect, Billy and Gizmo are reunited, but not before the little Mogwai gets wet and breeds a new batch of Gremlins. However, unlike the scaly destructive creatures from the first movie, the new batch of Gremlins manages to get into the materials from the genetics lab and transform themselves into all sorts of new little beasties. Before you know it, the new batch has managed to overrun the entire high-rise office tower- destroying anything and anyone that gets in their way.
What makes GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH a whole lot of fun is the film's irreverence and dark cartoony nature (gotta love that Chuck Jones animated opening sequence). The filmmakers even manage to poke fun at the original movie by pointing out the absurdities that govern the care and feeding of Mogwais. Also, having Leonard Maltin come in for a mock GREMLINS review, then having the film critic attacked by the little creatures is an example of the film's inspired lunacy. The cast of GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH features Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lee, Haviland Morris, Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Gedde Watanabe, Keye Luke, Kathleen Freeman, Julia Sweeney, Paul Bartel, Kenneth Tobey, John Astin, Henry Gibson, Hulk Hogan, Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith, Howie Mandel as the voice of Gizmo and Tony Randall as the voice of the Brainy Gremlin.
Warner Home Video has made GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. While the cinematography isn't the caliber of a brand new movie, Warner has provided GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH with a great looking transfer. The image is quite sharp and really nicely detailed. Some of the darker sequences are just a hair murky, but overall the resolution is very, very good. Colors are outstanding thanks to the filmmakers' choice of using bright, cartoony colors throughout the course of the movie. All of the intense hues are reproduced without a trace of chroma noise or smearing. Blacks are deep and inky, contrast is smooth and the level of shadow detail is everything one should expect from an early nineties production. The film element used for the transfer is very clean, displaying relatively few blemishes, plus there is very little by way of a noticeable grain structure during the presentation. Dual layer authoring keeps the digital compression artifacts well camouflaged throughout.
GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH is presented with a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. While the track sounds pretty darn good, its origins in the pre-discrete era are clearly evident. Because of this, the forward soundstage dominates the mix, although there is some lively stereo imaging across the front speakers. The surround channels are pretty subdued throughout much of the film, but snap to life anytime the Gremlins begin their shenanigans. Dialogue is very cleanly rendered, with every line coming across in a completely understandable manner. The bass channel doesn't have any serious boom to it, but the track certainly isn't top heavy. English, French and Spanish Dolby Surround tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features as well as the supplemental materials. Director Joe Dante, actor Zach Galligan, screenwriter Charlie Haas, and producer Michael Finnell are on hand for a fun and informative running audio commentary. The DVD also features over twenty minutes of additional scenes with optional director's commentary, as well as five-minute gag reel, a six minute "making of" featurette parody, a short recap on some of the film's gags, a theatrical trailer and a cast listing. Additionally, keep an eye out for a neat Easter egg, which shows an alternate sequence from the original home video version of GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH.
GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH is a fun movie and one of those rare sequels that is as much fun as the original. Warner has done a fine job with the film's presentation, producing a great looking and good sounding DVD. The supplements are also enjoyable, making this disc well worth acquiring for any GREMLINS fan.
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